booby juice

This post is about boobs. My boobs in particular. I really don’t care for the word “breasts”, but I’ll try to mix it up.

I grew up around boobs. Lol. Sounds weird – but it was a very normal thing for me to see my Mom breastfeeding my younger siblings. She called it booby juice. I think being able to speak lightheartedly about breastfeeding makes it less awkward.

I’m not going to preach on the benefits of breastfeeding – I’m sure you’ve probably heard all about it. If you haven’t, then let me google that for you.

Personally, it wasn’t something I considered too much before giving birth. I knew I would try to BF, and that if it worked out then “yah!” but if not, then oh well.

When Ginny was born, she was not placed directly on my chest. In fact, she was whisked away and intubated and didn’t come back to me until 15-20 minutes later. When I did get to see her she was wide eyed and rooting around. I wish now that I had gotten a video of the way she moves around when she’s searching for food. It’s cute and burned into my brain. I put Ginny to my left booby – and she started sucking immediately. I mention the side because to this day she prefers that side… which has resulted in my left booby being slightly larger than my right one – despite my best efforts to even things out). After a minute or two she stopped sucking, and her skin went from beautiful pink to slightly pallid. I mentioned to Awesome Nurse that she had stopped sucking, and AN whisked her away, whispering to another nurse softly as she moved Ginny to the baby heater/thingy in the room.

I didn’t know what was going on, but Ginny had stopped breathing. I’m going to be honest, I had no idea what was going on. Which is probably good – because I would’ve been freaking out. Just as the NICU doctor was about to use a defibrillator on my little baby… she started breathing again on her own.

It’s called apnea. Thankfully it only happened once.

From then on I thought it would be smooth sailing. Ginny almost refused to latch on to my right side, but I did my best to convince her.

I don’t remember how it felt the first time. But it did hurt. Even when the lactation consultant said her latch looked good… it was still uncomfortable. Because honestly guys… it’s a baby… sucking on your nipple. Out side of breastfeeding – how often do nipples really get sucked on? lol. It’s new, and takes some getting used to.

Just a quick note. For the first 3-5* days all your boobs make is colostrum. This is a thicker “milk”. In one book that I read it said that for every 10 minutes the baby nurses she gets 1 teaspoon of colostrum. It is nutrient pact, but doesn’t satisfy any kind of “thirst”. That is PERFECT because babies are born with too much water in their cells – and that weight they loose in the beginning is literally “water weight”. Once the milk comes in it has two phases (each time you nurse). The foremilk is to satisfy the babies thirst. Mine looks like waterdown milk. It is still white, but it is almost translucent. After a few minutes, the hindmilk comes out. This is the more nutrient dense version, and it’s consistency is a lot more like 2% milk (in looks and consistency).

(* this is the average, and what they say in hospitals and books – but it is not true for every one.)

The first week B-man and I diligently tracked her feedings. We woke her up every three hours and fed her. My nipples still hurt. The lactation consultant had said it takes 3-5 days for the milk to come in, but at 4 days my milk had still not come in. Ginny was nursing constantly and still screaming. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong as I diligently fed her as much as I could. At midnight I called my Mom crying. I was doing everything I could, giving her everything I had, and she was still crying.

I handed my screaming baby to my Mom and collapsed in the rocking chair, while my Mom grabbed a bottle of the pre-made formula the hospital had sent home with us, and gave it to Ginny… who promptly stopped screaming and fell asleep after a few minutes.

Was there something wrong with me? Did I not have anything coming out? I was starving my baby! I felt like such a bad Mom. I wasn’t trying to starve her, but it hadn’t even occured to me to give her some formula.

That night I gave up all modesty. Up until that point I had been very embarrassed about breastfeeding, about having my boob out of my bra. But that night my Mom told me how to “hand express” milk, so that I could actually SEE that stuff was coming out.

At 7 days we went in for a check-up. Typically the doctor does a 48 hr check-up, and then a 2 week check-up, but because Ginny had lost a lot of weight in the first two days we came back at 1 week to check her weight again. But she was still down, so the doctor gave us more (free!!!) formula. So for the next week, each time I would nurse Ginny, I would also give her formula through a small syringe that I would put into her mouth next to my nipple.

It took almost 9 days for my milk to come in. How did I know it came in? Well friends… it is pretty obvious. My breast were hard. Poke your cheek bone.  You feel that? Yah… your cheek bone under your skin. I would say that is what it felt like to poke my own boobs. Yes – they were that hard.

But here’s where things got complicated. This is when Ginny had thrush. This is when she stopped nursing completely and was barely willing to take a bottle. So here I am with engorged boobies that hurt like h*** and a baby that wouldn’t nurse.

I had no intentions of buying a breast pump – but out of chance a friend of mine had been given a new own, so she passed on the one that she had already owned to me! So every time my husband fed Ginny a bottle, I would sit on the couch and pump. I would pump for 20 minutes and barely anything would come out, just enough to relieve a tiny bit of the pressure. It was very painful and uncomfortable – but it only lasted about 2 days. If Ginny had been able to nurse it probably would’ve gone down sooner.

I’m not a fan of pumping and try to avoid it at all costs. This is my own opinion.

It took another two days to get the thrush treated and cleared up. And this is when I realized that what my Mom said at the hospital was true:

The best breast pump is your baby.

Once Ginny’s thrush was cleared up she went right back to the boob. I feel so lucky that after all of these challenges she was resilient and still breastfed. I’ve heard so many people who’ve been unable to breastfeed because of small hiccups in the process of feeding their baby. So seriously – after all of this I am feeling really lucky.

My little Ginny is a month old today. Now for the secret it took almost 4 weeks for me to get this breastfeeding thing down. It took that long for every latch to be a good latch. It took that long for Ginny to willingly latch onto my right side. And ya know what? We still supplement with formula on occassion. When my Mom baby sits for us, Ginny gets a bottle. When I’ve stayed up all night with a baby that needs to burp and I lay her down just for her to sleep for 30 minutes, my husband gives her a bottle so that I can sleep. The next night, when Ginny has been nursing for over an hour and is still awake, half an ounce of formula tops her off and she sleeps almost the entire night.

I’ve been breastfeeding for a month. I have done a lot of supplementing with formula. I give my baby a pacifier** when she falls asleep nursing and wakes up when I take her off my boob. I give her a pacifier in the car. Binkies and bottle nipples have not cause any nipple confusion.

Why do I do it? I didn’t feel in particularly inclined to breastfeed before Ginny was born. But I planned to do it because it is free (win!) and easy (because I love my sleep and didn’t want to be making bottles at all hours of the night). Now I do it because it is free (win!) and easy.

But don’t be fooled. It’s not always the easiest thing. Having something that is so dependent on you, and you alone, is incredibly stressful and when things go wrong (like taking 9 days for your milk to come in), you feel very responsible for the screaming baby in your arms.

This is what works for us.

If you have a baby and have posted about breastfeeding before – feel free to leave a link to your post!

If you’ve had a baby, did you breastfeed? Was it always your plan, or just something that happened? Was it what you expected?

If you have not had a baby, what do you think about breastfeeding? Is it something you’ve thought about before? Tell me your thoughts, and questions! If I can’t answer them, there are several other Mamas that read this blog – so hopefully they can chime in too!

** People often “tisk” when I say we give her a pacifier. She’s been sucking on one since she was a day old. The NICU doctor told me about non-nutritive sucking. It’s a real thing, and several studies have shown that babies do benefit from the sucking – and that it is not solely for nutrition. Look it up… very interesting stuff!

 

 

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16 Comments

    1. It's just a constant roller coaster! Far more challenging than I ever expected, but also far more rewarding than I expected!

  1. Perhaps one of the good things about being one of the first of many of my friends to have kids was that I didn't know all the difficulties that nursing relationships could experience! That and I am horribly stubborn, so the fact that a couple people told me it was silly, just made me more determined. With my second child, the lactation consultant at the hospital would have made me give up, had I not known what I was doing to start with–she was horrible. It did hurt the first several weeks with my first two, but the last one just seemed to have a perfect latch from the get-go. It isn't easy, it can feel smothering when you are the primary (or sole source of nourishment for another human being), but I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to breast feed my babies.

    I wrote this a few months ago about breast feeding: http://notesfromamama.blogspot.com/2011/04/so-app

    1. I kind of thought I was just doing it wrong, when my nipples where still suffering after a few weeks, but then almost magically, everything stopped hurting and she was getting a good latch every time!

      I remember your post on breastfeeding! Thanks for sharing it here!

  2. I hope I can breastfeed when we have kids.

    I'm very thankful to be able to read so many new mom's experiences regarding breastfeeding. To me it's one of those things I always thought just came naturally, you know, second nature, instinct and what not. So I'm glad to read the experiences and to know that yes, it's work, no it's not easy, but yes it's worth it.

    I've heard about a website called Kelly's Mom or something like that which has a lot of good information.

    1. I have done some reading on Kelly's Mom – definitely good for answering a myriad of random questions!

      I'm interested to know the French perspective on breastfeeding. Is it something most people do? Is it socially accepted or is it more like the US, where it is almost socially discouraged?

  3. My daughter is 6 months and still has never had formula (we just started baby led weaning though). I always planned to breastfeed because 1. it's healthier 2. it's cheaper and 3. it's easier. My mom breastfed her children, and at that time I lived in San Francisco, where breastfeeding is like a religion, so me not choosing exclusive breastfeeding would have been the strange thing.

    I honestly didn't have the problems that most people seem to experience. She latched on right away (the hospital was very pro-breastfeeding and did everything possible to facilitate that), my milk came in pretty promptly (day 4 I think), and i never had problems with supply. It did hurt quite a bit at first (the first 2-3 weeks), my daughter like yours would only eat from one side for a while, and she had jaundice and then reflux, which made her scream when she tried to eat until she went on medication. But overall it was pretty painless. I wrote about my views on breastfeeding here: http://opinionationblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/my-v

    I really admire people like you who keep at it even when it's difficult, because it sounds so hard to keep at it. It really is a true expression of motherly love! (And the pacifier is like my best friend in the world, especially when you have to go somewhere requiring baby silence ie planes, public spaces etc. People who tssk about them must just like to suffer.)

    1. The pacifier is my sanity saver! With out it I would feel like a human pacifier, and it's not realistic to let her stay latched on for an extra 30 minutes while she falls asleep, when I can just give her a paci and set her down to fall asleep on her own!

  4. I definitely plan on breastfeeding my babies. My husband and I both feel real strongly about it's importance and benefits. I'm grateful he has expressed such a willingness to be supportive and helpful.

    I'm not sure how I would feel if I'm not able to breastfeed for some reason. I know I would be sad and disappointed, but I think it might cut even deeper than that. In some ways I think it would be better if I felt "oh well" about it not working out like you did to start with. On the other hand, I think that I will be determined to overcome potential obstacles with a severe stubbornness. But then again, who knows? Things often feel different in the actual experience of them.

    1. I think my indifference comes from seeing so many people be either "BREAST MILK ONLY!" or people who were completely unable to breastfeed. Being pregnant was a good lesson in preparing to be a parents. It made me realize that no matter how hard I try to make something happen, the baby has a huge influence on… everything. If I hadn't been able to breastfeed, I probably would've felt incompetent for a little while… but being able to split the feedings with my husband (and thus, being able to sleep more!) probably would've made things a little easier to deal with.

    1. I think sometimes doctors forget that to have a happy and healthy baby… you need a happy and healthy Mama. I'm sorry your own experience was so rough – but only you can know what is best for your baby AND yourself. Don't ever feel bad about that. Babies need healthy and happy Mom's more than they need one specific type of food (especially when there are alternatives!).

  5. I plan to do everything in my power to have my baby breastfeed – but that's obviously going to be a while from now and you know what they say about "the best laid plans! " It's something I value though and I'm so glad you wrote this post! I've been under the impression that formula will just ruin the baby for breastfeeding completely so it' good to hear that it's likely different for each baby and that there's no hard and fast rule about "no formula ever" being the only way to make breastfeeding a success.

    1. Formula has saved my sanity many times. And you're right – it is best to be open minded, because babies often come with their own plans, and there is nothing we can do about it!

  6. Hello, first time commenter here 🙂

    I don't have any children, and not sure if we will ever, but if we do I will definately at least try to breast feed. Like you said, its free. And nutritious. Diapers and formula are expensive, and if I can cut down on the cost of one, I will do my best!

    Also, I don't think there's anything wrong with a BABY having a pacifier. It's when the child is older that I believe its a problem. I have a friend who's daughter is 7 and sucks on her fingers (the three middle ones on her left hand) and has serious calluses on her fingers, and it's also affected her teeth. They should have (IMO) broken her of that habit years ago. But I try to mind my own business as like I stated before, I don't have any and they didn't ask for my opinion.

    Sounds like you guys are doing a great job and loving that beautiful baby of yours!

    1. Often people will tisk about newborns having pacifiers because they think it will cause nipple confusion and then they won't be able to nurse. Obviously we haven't had that problem!

      But I completely agree, binkies are for babies! the problem is teaching kiddos to pacify themselves in several ways, so that getting rid of the binky isn't so traumatizing when that time comes.

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